Buying A Harmonica Based on Your Needs

What’s Right for You

Many people new to harmonicas don’t realize that there is actually a variety of harmonicas on the market.

The key differences are in key, and also in type.  When purchasing a harmonica you want to make sure that the harmonica is fit for your purpose and needs.

Below the specific types of harmonicas, as well as the different keys are detailed.  You can use this information to help make the right harmonica investment.  Enjoy.

Different types of harmonicas:

It surprises many people that there is a range of different harmonicas to choose from.  The list below shows these along with the key differences.

  • Chromatic:  This harmonica is used for both classical and jazz music.  Good players can also play blues, but it is generally geared towards the above two genres of music.
  • Diatonic: These are by far the most popular.  The reason is because they are the best for playing blues.  But, good players can also get some great sounds for both rock and country music.
  • Tremolo: This can be used in both folk and Asian folk music.

While most people recommend the diatonic to start, it really depends on what type of music you want to play.

Different harmonica keys

Harmonica can come in a range of different keys.  In fact for the specialist chromatic harmonica, it can come in all of the twelve available keys.

This is pretty impressive for an instrument that is well priced and can fit in your pocket.  It also shows that good musical instrument engineering doesn’t have to be overly expensive.

The main keys used for harmonicas are detailed below:

  • C Major: By far this is the most common key, and is considered the standard key for the diatonic harmonica.  The hard bopper 16 hole chromatic harmonica is also only available in this key.  The fact that it easily matches in with “middle C” on the piano means that it is very versatile.
  • G major and F major: Rather than being related to a specific type of music, these keys are chosen because there is only one sharp or flat to consider.  It makes for easier playing and again can match in with a variety of music types.
  • B major: This is popular, but it really depends on the type of music that you are playing.  The key is most common in Irish music.  It you are looking to own multiple harmonicas then it would be worth getting one that is in B Major.
  • E-Flat major and B-Flat major: These are used when you want to play music written for different types of clarinets and saxophones.  It’s not the easiest to play in these keys, so it is definitely suited to the more advanced player.

If you are just starting out, then it is much better to go with a harmonica that is tuned to the key of C.  This way you can play almost all of the most popular songs around.  Once you have progressed from being beginner, and have decided that you love the harmonica, then you can consider buying harmonicas in other keys.

In summary, buying a harmonica is a decision that requires considerable research.  By understanding the different types of harmonicas and the different keys, you stand to make the right harmonica purchase.  Use this information above when you are out buying your harmonica.

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